What if we took the ‘dis’ out of disability?

I often encourage participants in my workshops to forget about what students with disabilities can’t do and focus on what they can. We can use this to approach the learning, get them comfortable and then push a little so the students begin to use what they can do to strengthen what they can’t. What do you think?

Let’s have a look.

Take the term disability. I’ve spent the past eight months asking research participants to describe for me what they think this is – you can articulate what you think it is now…

For me, it’s a negative term – something that gets in the way.

By simply crossing out the ‘DIS’, it becomes a totally different word, ‘ABILITY’.

Why don’t we focus on that for a moment? ABILITY. What can we change, put in place, introduce, or challenge so that we focus on the student’s ability rather than get all twisted up about what they can’t do? How would your planning and delivery of teaching and learning look then? Allow me to introduce Julian. He is a boy in your class, non-funded, presenting with the following ‘disabilities’

Julian – a non-funded student

Let’s just say we changed our thinking and presented Julian’s ‘disabilities’ as ‘ABILITIES’.

What Julian can do

How would planning a differentiated lesson for this class be different if we focused on what they can do?

Take another word – dyslexia. By removing the ‘dys’ we are left with the word LEXIA which has origins from the Greek and Latin and refers to reading. (It’s also a raisin, but that just doesn’t suit me here). *clears throat* If we were to address reading, how could we encourage it to those who have dyslexia? I have a few ideas, you may have others and the more we can share the better it will be, as we know that not all strategies work every time, all the time nor forever and so having a full bag can be rather useful.

Here’s a few of mine:

  • Use sans-serif text where possible, that is – Verdana, Arial or Calibri and left-align the text
  • Use visuals and have the child ‘read’ the picture, you might even record their voice and help them write the words alongside the visual later
  • Use audiobooks – now there are 2 important points I’d like to make here
    • The child should not just be listening to the audiobook, but should also follow the text
    • You don’t have to spend $$$ to buy them – record yourself reading it or have someone else do it for you – parents, imagine if your child was listening to you read it on tape when you weren’t there in person?

Next word – dysgraphia, by dropping the ‘dys’ we are left with GRAPHIA, the process of writing. I have used graph paper successfully with a number of students to help formulate their letters within the spaces and I suspect it would also assist with numbers. We should never comment on how bad a child’s writing is (yes – no matter how bad) as this will only lead to them refusing to write altogether. The way one can improve their writing both aesthetically and content wise is to keep writing, don’t ruin that process, instead try a few different strategies to get encourage them. Use their body to form letters, take photos and have them trace around it – lots of different letters make words, sentences and so it goes. Help them manipulate further with plasticine, writing on the board, or on a wall (put paper up first!) with chalk on the path. I like to challenge them by having them use their ‘other’ hand – it’s fun!

The letter T
image: comicphonics.com

Getting the idea?

Let’s try one more – dyscalculia, difficulty understanding numeracy. If we remove the ‘dys’ we have CALCULIA – obviously closely related to calculus – you get the idea. How can we assist with this? There are many ways we can address it but one of my favourites is more for parents than Maths teachers…  it’s cooking!

via GIPHY

Imagine how many things we need to measure, count, estimate, time, weigh and plan? Trust me, the benefits out weigh the mess.

There are many others I haven’t shared but I’ll stop it here and take the opportunity to invite you to add to my list of ‘dys’ words made positive and even better – strategies to enhance them and my ‘dys’ words above. Please take the time to share an idea that might help an educator change the life of a child today.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

Ma & Pa Kettle and other mathematical dilemmas

This week’s #edublogsclub prompt 12 asks us to embed something into a post.

No problems!

One of my favourite videos that I use in many of my workshops to do with differentiation and non-funded special needs is Ma & Pa Kettle’s most convincing lesson in mathematics.

The problem: How many times does 5 go into 25?

I bet you said 5 …

Can you think of any other numbers that can be manipulated to do the same?

No?

How about

13×7=?

Watch the video below. Costello (Albert and Costello fame) is pretty convincing…

Why are they so convincing?

I’ve used the Ma & Pa video in the past and asked students to convince me otherwise.

I would also imagine an open ended problem solving session where students explore the possibility that there may be other numbers for which we can present a similar argument.

How could you use these videos in your classes?

Feel free to share your ideas below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Take Outs: Day 2 Evidence-based teaching summit 2016

University of Bologna by Laurentius de Voltolina c.1350

University of Bologna by Laurentius de Voltolina c.1350

Take a close look at the medieval painting above what do you notice?

Has anything changed in classrooms today? Of course yes there are no devices, I’m speaking mostly about engagement – 24:1, only 6 paying any attention, the rest seem disengaged, with more than one having a little snooze.

Now how about this one?

Raphael, School of Athens, 1509-11

Raphael, School of Athens, 1509-11

Ron Canuel (CEA) opened Day 2 of proceedings giving us insights into the research done at CEA. He says that much of education has been hijacked by others and that it is indeed time we took it back. We certainly all know (I hope) that standarised tests do not lead to improvement in the educational outcomes of students, however, they do benefit real estate agents! According to Canuel – everyone wants to live in a catchment area of what is considered a ‘good’ school (and no I’m not elaborating).

Oh and the second painting above? Well, Ron mentioned something that really struck a chord with me, he said that education change should look like the Renaissance with a lot more emphasis on all subjects. School of Athens is how I imagine a classroom should be, collaboration, thinking, genius, excitement, movement, passion, reflection, ordered chaos —–> can you hear it?

26% & rising...kids who are not dealing with school recommended reading from Daffydd Wiesner-Ellix (CBD Strategic)

26% & rising…kids who are not dealing with school recommended reading from Daffydd Wiesner-Ellix (CBD Strategic)

My next take out is about teacher quality. There is no measure for an effective teacher (Gary Marks, ACU). A teacher who may be effective in one classroom may not be in a different one let alone in another school. So where is the teaching profession heading? Tania Aspland (AITSL) argued that we could easily devise a how-to manual becoming an expert teacher the same as one might consult a how-to manual on becoming an expert golfer or tennis player. The first chapter in this manual would, of course, be OBSERVATION and the STANDARDS provide us with something against which to measure our progress. So, where can we make the greatest impact in the context of our place and time (Neil Barker, DET) in schools? Can educators, as Susannah Emery (Curtin University) asks, be ‘quest givers’ given the strong attachment our current students have towards gaming? Perhaps the Teaching & Learning Toolkit presented by Tanya Vaughan might just assist us in making the greatest impact happen in our classrooms, where they belong.

The highlight of the summit for me was meeting and sitting next to David Mitchell, Adjunct Professor (College of Educational Studies and Leadership), University of Canterbury, NZ. He delivered the final keynote address. Of course, while chatting at the table over the two days, I did all the talking about my research before it dawned on me just who he was – for those who don’t know his research is in diverse needs of students and inclusion and if you follow my blog you would know that my PhD is in special needs!!!! I spent the night after the first day of the conference reading up on Dr. Mitchell and got my hands on an online copy of his book. I have since read a number of journal articles and will hold true to emailing him to discuss his research, ask questions and gain first-hand insights as I journey through my PhD.

Dr. Mitchell also commented on my note-taking so here I place the sketchnote I completed as he spoke…now I would have added so much more but I really enjoyed just listening. I think I’ve got enough for you to get the picture of just how much wisdom this man has offered me especially as I continue my PhD. I secretly hope too, that Dr. Mitchell might read this post one day and see it for himself for I was not confident to show him on the day.

Sketchnote -Dr. Mitchell's keynote

Sketchnote -Dr. Mitchell’s keynote


 

Question: Can Principals significantly influence learning in their schools? (Helal & Coelli, 2016)

Fact: 24% of ALL students and 40% of those who are disadvantaged are at risk of reading failure in Australian primary schools. The explicit teaching of literacy covering the BIG5 may assist (Kerry Hempenstall – Case Study presentation).


 

One more thing – Whilst Radmila Harding was a little apprehensive about being the very last speaker of the conference and wondered if there would be anyone left to hear her presentation I have to say it was engaging, and well I’m also going to say … FUN! There were hands-on activities and videos to make us laugh… and so it ended… happily. The take home message not only from Radmila’s presentation but I think from the whole conference:

Let’s work collaboratively to build a team that won’t fall down so all may benefit and grow in their experience and journey of learning and living.

And yes there were enough people left who enjoyed it right to the end.

End of Day 2

Thanks for reading 🙂

Day 1 – EBT reflection

Reading from the outside in

A new term usually signals a new text we have to ‘teach’. In many cases there’s a 90% chance that your students haven’t read the novel in advance and if they have, well, that’s a bonus.

Over the years I’ve tried lots of ways to try and get students involved with the class texts. I’ve sat in on meetings where teachers decide which novels their students should read in which year level and during which term. I’ve been in on discussions as to whether to allow the film version to be studied and what the sparknotes might have to offer.

I’ve had occasion to actually introduce novels in a few classes over the years with great success (usually as a CRT or while on a short term contract) even though I’m not a trained English teacher. This is what I have to offer…

Reading the novel from the outside in

There are many students who don’t like to read, especially not books that are prescribed by their teachers. However, until we change our ways and actually allow the students themselves to choose their own novels  – now there’s an idea – we need to find ways to engage them. We need to ‘hook’ them into learning.

Blue book

Blue book

For a student to connect with their novel we have to tease them into wanting to know more. Therefore I never begin with the Forward or the Introduction and nor do I begin at Chapter One. In fact, I don’t even do this in my own reading, which is probably why I was a little disappointed when the book I put on hold last week turned out looking like this (Blue book). I know I’m going to need to make some effort in reading it over the coming weeks (sighs). So what is it that would engage my students and I into reading a book? What’s the hook? For me it’s going to be the cover – front and back.

For this experiment, I’d like you to grab a novel or any book close by and follow the prompts while simultaneously developing a mind map by hand or using any brainstorming apps:

Here’s mine;

One version of the cover – ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night-time’

  1. Have a good look at both the front and back, and write down everything you see (use adjectives to really help describe what it is, e.g. 6 red cars and extend the mind map). This is even more interesting if your students have different editions.
  2. Ask questions of the students – What does the colour ‘red’ represent? Extend the mind map as students respond – red, love; anger…

    beginnings of mind map

    Beginnings of  a mind map

  3. What of the awards? Google and add info to mind map
  4. Keep going – accept all responses as students begin to engage with your questions. They may have some of their own. Ask.
  5. They may want to add colour or other images which they can draw or download.
  6. Now get them to read the blurb
  7. Who is the main character?
  8. What do you know about this character from reading the blurb? Explore further the idea about not understanding human beings. Do they know anyone like this in their own lives?
  9. What more have you learnt about the dog?
  10. Keep building the mind map…Are there any other characters mentioned? Who are they?
  11. What kind of novel is this? Mystery – who likes mysteries? Tell me about something mysterious…
  12. What mysteries might the main character unravel in this novel? Write a paragraph we can compare later…or draw a picture…or record your idea on your device…

Let’s find out what happens shall we?

And so only then do we turn to Chapter 1 – ‘It was 7 minutes after midnight.” #hooked

Try it; I’d love to hear how it goes.

The mind map can be updated, re-designed, discussed, and dissected as they go through the novel – extending and comparing their first thoughts and developing ideas for later analysis. Some students might like to follow along using the audio version as they read through the book. Did you know that there is a stage production of the novel and even an overview?

So, how did you go with your book? Do you think this could work in your classes? Are you willing to have a go? I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Time to revisit my #oneword2016

My word for 2016

My word for 2016

How far can #oneword go? It seems that it can travel quite a long way. On January 3rd I decided to get on the bandwagon and wrote a reflection on one word that would describe my journey for 2016. It is now May and time for me to review the journey so far…

My #oneword2016 is further’. I still very much love this word and it has, to date, served me well. There are five areas in my professional life in which I hoped to make progress during the year -to go ‘further’ and so far after 5 months I am really happy with where I’m at.

notes

Writing up my PhD proposal for confirmation

1. The PhD

The PhD is chugging along very nicely. In fact, I have just now received the email I was waiting for, “Jo I have just finished [reading] the final draft and am happy for this to go the panel now.” Of course that now means I am preparing for my confirmation -the 20 minute presentation to an academic panel who will feedback and hopefully give me the green light to go ahead with not too many amendments. I’ll let you know how that goes in a couple of weeks.

The second part of my PhD journey is continuing the #survivephd15 chat on twitter which has now morphed to just #survivephd and happens every first Thursday of each month at 8:30pm AEST. It’s not as fast paced as others but I’m happy to be able to extend the conversations beyond the themed questions. To date I have been following the same topics covered in the MOOC course last year but after next month that will end. So I’ll be looking for ideas from fellow PhDers on themes they would like to chat about. If you’re interested you can have a look at the storify from our last chat on BOREDOM.

2. Me as learner and teacher

IMG_0027

Oxford

 

Well I did say I wanted to go ‘further’ with this too and while I’m still doing some CRT work, I am also privileged to have a tutorial group of 2nd year pre-service teachers. They are currently on their school placements so won’t be seeing them for two weeks but trust me I have plenty to do, while they are out, marking their assignments. I have really enjoyed these classes watching them grow even in the short space of time, from when they first entered – only a few months ago – but in that time they have accomplished so much from being asked to teach a short session in a local school to getting up in front of their peers and running a half hour teaching session, to now finally completing assessments on reflective practice. I will miss them once the semester is over but hopefully there might be another opportunity in second semester to work again with pre-service teachers. Here’s hoping…

3. My coaching model

“In 2015, I was asked to work with a small team and develop a made to order coaching model for staff.”

Coaches in training

Coaches in training

The coaching model is developing well. We have now completed the initial training for our volunteer coaches and established a group of coachees ready for the pilot program which begins in August. Throughout the training we developed coaching contracts and conducted role plays in coaching conversations. We used multiple sources including AITSL coaching guidelines, GCI (see below), CEM, Group 8 Education, ideas from Instructional Coaching by Jim Knight, and reflections by Chris Munro,  to help develop our very own coaching model. We are also piloting different platforms for coaching conversations to happen including our own twitter hashtag #mlmccoaching, a private Facebook page and a Google classroom platform where we can share resources and give feedback. I intend pushing ‘further’ here and encourage the coaches take part in some coaching chats on twitter, most especially the Australian based #educoachOC.

I also decided that it would be beneficial learning for me in training others that I too follow this lead and signed up with Growth Coaching International (GCI) to learn more abut coaching and am currently in Phase Two working on telecoaching techniques. I am really enjoying reading the resources, making contact with peers and developing my skills. I hope to take this ‘further’ and sign up at the end of the next phase to become a qualified GCI coach!

In the meantime I’m preparing / developing the pilot program for my coaching school. The first two sessions will focus on building trust and relationships, without these there is no coaching success. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

4. Special needs advocacy

With the announcement by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) earlier this year requiring teachers to attend professional learning specifically to assist and improve their capacity to teach learners with a disability, came many more enquiries from schools. I have also had a sharp hike in attendee numbers for my workshops with Critical Agendas. Last week’s session was over capacity with 47 teachers and support staff attending. Hard work, but I’m so happy that the message it getting out – certainly with a little help this area has gone ‘further’ as I have quite a number of workshops booked with schools across the metropolitan area and will continue my work in spreading the message that everyone deserves to be taught how they learn no matter where they start.

t-shirt logo

t-shirt logo

Continuing in the same vein of ‘special needs’ is the opportunity I have to work with a great bunch of people from the English Connect department and Monash University. I’m in the Peer Support group helping international students with written or spoken academic work. I’m loving this experience and the opportunity to witness our clients improve their grammar and pronunciation skills. I am so privileged to be teaching while at the same time growing as a learner myself, listening to their stories, and meeting lots of new people along the way.

5. Teaching the teacher

To date I have learnt so much already – completing my confirmation paper for my PhD was such a great learning curve and my main supervisor has taught me many new skills, as well as challenging me and supporting me in the process. I can’t wait to move into the next phase with still so much learning to do. My academic writing has improved – I am really chuffed at my skills of ‘crafting’ all my ideas into this paper. I hope I do it justice at the presentation.

The coaching model and training with GCI is something that I cherish and will continue to do so as I complete the training process.

Teaching and learning with my pre-service teachers was a career goal and hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to explore this ‘further’, along with learning at English Connect.

At the end of my post back in January I wrote:

My wish for 2016 is that I can go further but more importantly that as I go so it is that I am not alone, too far ahead or even too far behind. Will you take up the challenge with me? Are you willing to go … further?

Still stands….

Thanks for reading 🙂